Exploring silken lochs, historic castles and wooded islands from an open canoe allows time to immerse yourself in the beauty of Ardnamurchan
Open Canoe Journey
As your canoe glides effortlessly and silently through the serene water, you travel further from the roads and paths. There you begin to discover and appreciate views you never thought you would see.
Seals pop up near your boat staring at you with their big, round eyes while they entertain you. Then they disappear and you try to guess when and where they will pop-up next; White tailed eagles soar over your heads and Oyster catchers ‘peep’ from rocky shorelines.
As you continue you cannot help but admire the peace and tranquility of the wild spaces you are discovering.
Activity Level Moderate3/8
Group Size Large Group8
Join like-minded people for a full-day canoe journey where getting on the water and exploring stunning landscapes from a new perspective is more important than covering any particular route or distance.
Throughout your canoe journey you will be accompanied by me, a fully qualified and experienced local guide, who is there to ensure you get the most from your trip. I will offer advice on efficient paddling, look after your safety throughout the trip and highlight any wildlife that appears or can be found as well as any relevant local cultural or historical sights, and probably tell a few of the local stories and legends that help shape the culture.
These journey are designed so you have an amazing experience on the water and explore places you may never have realised existed. We may not be paddling all the time we are on the water (approximately 4+ hours) as exploring beaches and islands or watching any wildlife that appears is definitely part of these adventures.
Winds and tides always effect the choice of location and distance, but I’ll be looking to make this an authentic open canoe experience by undertaking a journey from A-B when possible. We can get dropped off (or picked up) and paddle ‘one way’ if the winds allow. It may be that reaching the perfect location requires a circular route where we start and finish at the same place (e.g. a circumnavigation of Eilean Shona). It is all part of the adventure…
The minimum age we take on these canoe adventures is twelve (12) years old as this is the age at which we feel confident they will take an active part throughout the full canoe adventure. If you have children younger than this, please consider a Family Canoe Adventure instead as these are tailored more for children and their physical needs and abilities; distances are shorter and breaks more frequent.
While I intend you to stay in your canoe and dry, occasionally people do capsize canoes and fall in and it does (sometimes) rain, so please dress appropriately. Changing facilities are very limited at present, so please come ‘dressed’ for the day and do your best to keep the canoe upright!
You may be asked to help move and lift canoes during the day, so please let me know if this is going to be difficult for you or if you have any medical concerns that may affect your participation in the day.
Above all, enjoy your adventure and keep your fingers crossed for an otter to make an appearance!
For all our open canoe adventures (day or half-day), the following are included as standard:
- Qualified and experienced guide throughout your journey
- Use of our high quality, stable Venture canoes
- Robust paddle in a size to suit you
- Adjustable buoyancy aid
- Waterproof paddlesport jacket & trousers (recommended whatever the weather)
- One 30 litre plastic barrel per boat (to put your belongings and lunch in during the trip)
* Please feel free to use your own paddle sport equipment as long as it confirms to current UK safety standards and best practices and is less than five years old.
The following is a non-exhaustive list of what we are not able to include in these adventures:
- Clothes to wear under our waterproofs suitable for the weather (please avoid jeans and cotton clothes – modern outdoor clothing will be an excellent choice)
- Shoes to wear whilst paddling (these will get wet)
- Sunhat or beanie (depending upon conditions)
- Suncream (take it with you if it is sunny)
- Spare jumper (better to start a little cool and add layers later if paddling has not warmed you up)
- Sunglasses & retainer cord or band (if you wear glasses normally, please ensure they are secured by a retainer of some form)
- Drinks and snacks to keep you going on the water
- Spare clothes and towel (just in case!)
- Personal accident and possessions insurance
NB: Some of these items may be available for loan from Otter Adventures if you should forget them.
Guided Canoe Adventure
Meet at Otter Adventures base in Strontian at 9.30 am or 2.00 pm as per your booking. If we have arranged anything different, we will have communicated it well in advance.
Don’t worry about being early as your guide may be busy preparing for your trip. If everyone arrives at the same time we can all introduce ourselves and your guide can get a feel for your level of experience before briefing you on what you need and where you will be going.
Please arrive wearing suitable clothing for the day as changing facilities are very limited at present. We will give you canoe specific waterproofs to wear as well as a buoyancy aid.
We may ask for help loading and unloading equipment – especially the canoes – so, please let your guide know if that is going to be difficult for you.
Once everyone is ready, we will head off to the location for the day. Ideally this will be on Loch Sunart – right outside our front door, but the wind and tide may mean that we have to go elsewhere. Don’t worry; we have ample water to choose from within 15 minutes drive, but we may need someone to drive their car with a few people in.
Our aim is to be back at Otter Adventures with all equipment returned by 12.30 pm or 5.00 pm. If the weather is amazing and the seals performing, we may be a little late – please let your guide know before the trip starts if you have to be away promptly for any reason.
Watching seals from the comfort of a stable canoe is an easy way to pass quite some time on the water...
Good question – but it depends upon the weather and how much you feel the cold!
Most modern outdoor clothing is great – synthetic materials that dry quickly and are relatively warm and comfortable even if they should get wet (from rain, splashing … or worse). Please avoid cotton clothing such as jeans and T-shirts as these do little to keep you warm and are uncomfortable if they get wet. Choose walking trousers or leggings and thermal tops and fleeces instead.
Don’t forget that we can provide a waterproof jacket and trousers designed specifically for paddlesports. The jackets, from size ‘small’ upwards, have built in hoods just in case it rains or gets a bit windy and colder. We suggest taking at least the jacket with you whatever the weather as it is very useful for keeping the wind off once on the open water – it can be surprisingly cool in the breeze away from the shelter of land and trees.
The main thing to remember is a pair of shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. This is almost unavoidable when getting in and out of the canoes. The beaches are often covered in rounded, wet rocks or seated, both of which can be slippery, so choose sensibly. We don’t recommend walking or welly boots as these are heavy when wet; instead choose beach shoes, wetsuit boots or an old pair of trainers that have decent grip on the soles.
Finally, a sunhat is almost a necessity even when the sky is a little cloudy. If you have sensitive eyes, then adding sunglasses is really beneficial. However, do make sure they are attached to something with a glasses retainer (or even a piece of string tied to your buoyancy aid) in case they slip off your face when you are looking down into the clear water.
Aside from suitable clothing (see previous question), you don’t really need to bring much with you.
Bringing a camera or phone to record your adventure seems like a great idea, but how do you keep it dry and stop the sand and salt from getting in?
We do have barrels you can use that are almost waterproof, but a camera will rattle around in them as they are thirty litre capacity. When you take it out to use it your hands will be damp and probably salty.
If you choose to bring such items with you, then you do so entirely at your own risk. We strongly suggest you make sure it is appropriately insured.